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Sun 12 Jul 2009 12:13 PM

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$2.4bn plan to expand Saudi airport - report

Aviation officials set to award contract to add new terminal to Medina airport.

Saudi Arabia plans to award a build-operate-transfer contract to expand an airport in the city of Medina at a cost of 9 billion riyals ($2.4 billion), a local newspaper reported on Sunday citing senior officials.

The new airport terminal is expected to be completed within a maximum of four years, Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper quoted Abdullah Rahimi, who heads the country's civil aviation authority GACA, as saying.

The new terminal, at the existing Prince Muhammad bin Abdul-Aziz International Airport, would have a capacity of 12 million passengers per year, the daily quoted airport managing director Abdulfattah Atta as saying. The airport currently has the capacity to handle 3 million passengers each year.

Noone at GACA or the airport was immediately available to comment.

Medina is Islam's second most sacred city after Mecca. Medina, the burial place of Prophet Mohammad, attracts about five million Muslim pilgrims each year.

The government has awarded several contracts aimed at enhancing the transport infrastructure used by pilgrims. The contracts include a high-speed rail section that links Mecca and Jeddah, the main entry point for pilgrims. (Reuters)

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